Foskett J rejects Shoesmith’s Baby P sacking claim

The former head of children’s services at Haringey Council Sharon Shoesmith has failed in the judicial review of her sacking following the death of Baby P.

In a judgment handed down today Mr Justice Foskett indicated that he reached the decision with “unease” and recommended discussions between central and local government to establish a protocol for dealing with this kind of situation if it arises in the future.

Foskett J’s judgment drew attention “to the unfortunate fact that the issues in the case have become obscured and, to some extent, devalued by the personalised way in which they have been discussed and represented in the public arena”.

Shoesmith was sacked following an urgently arranged Ofsted investigation into the death of Peter Connelly (Baby P) after months of abuse at the hands of his mother, her partner and lodger.

Baby P had been on the child protection register for eight months prior to his death, during which time Shoesmith was the borough’s director of children and young people’s services (the ‘DCS’). An Ofsted report led to Shoesmith’s removal without compensation.

She subsequently launched a judicial review against Ofsted, the Secretary of State for Children and Schools Ed Balls and the London Borough of Haringey, in which she sought to challenge alleged breaches of process as well as its apparent unfairness, particularly its politicisation.

Shoesmith’s counsel, James Maurici of Landmark Chambers, who was instructed by Beachcroft, argued that the Ofsted report had been “beefed up” following an intervention by Balls.

Balls was represented by James Eadie QC at Blackstone Chambers, while Tim Ward at Monckton acted on behalf of Ofsted. Haringey Legal Services was represented by Ingrid Simler QC at Devereux Chambers.